Evangelist Joni Eareckson Tada, known for her stalwart faith despite a series of health battles, most notably becoming a quadriplegic in the late 1960s, shared some very good news last week.
Tada, who ultimately became paralyzed from the neck down in 1967, when she dove into the Chesapeake Bay after misjudging the depth of the water, announced last November she had been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time.
But last Tuesday, she revealed on social media she was cancer-free — a development she described as “miraculous.”
“We were prepared to gladly take whatever from the hand of God, even if it were from his left hand,” Tada wrote. “But the Lord was gracious and heard the desire of our hearts.”
The 69-year-old author and speaker said a PET scan earlier this month revealed her second tumor, which was discovered late last year, was successfully removed and “did not metastasize.”
“Given the aggressive nature of that reoccurring cancer,” she added, “this news is quite miraculous.”
Three years after being declared cancer-free, a small nodule was discovered on the site of Tada’s mastectomy, which she underwent along with chemotherapy treatment in 2010, when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.
As for Tada’s husband, Ken, he told The Christian Post in 2012 that his wife’s battle with breast cancer actually “reignited our marriage and our love for each other.”
“Basically,” Ken said, “when I — when we — first discovered the deformity and not knowing what it was, set up the mammogram, the only thing that we learned in that early journey of cancer was it’s a hurry-up-and-wait situation.”
He continued, “So the cancer journey, during that time, everything stopped. We got a chance to talk. We hadn’t ever talked before, and the two of us grew closer together during that time. Not closer just with each other, but also closer to Jesus.”
Tada explained during a February interview with LifeWay’s Facts and Trends that she is confident God is still using her on earth. While she is “ready at any time” to go to heaven, she said, “I think it’s more needful for Christ that I remain for his purposes.”
“There are millions of people with disabilities who don’t know Jesus,” she explained. “And that’s why I show up at work every single day at Joni and Friends. It breaks my heart to think the suffering a person in a wheelchair is going through is only an omen of even greater suffering to come if he doesn’t know Christ.”
In addition to ministering to those with various disabilities, Tada has recently used her platform to decry the growing trend of euthanasia — or “physician-assisted suicide” — in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Writing for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Decision magazine, Tada urged her fellow Christians to speak up against euthanasia, arguing “thousands” will lose their lives if the church doesn’t speak up.
Tada also revealed that, more than 50 years ago, when she was first paralyzed, she wanted to “end it all.”
“I begged my high school friends to bring in their mothers’ pills or their fathers’ razors,” she wrote, adding that, when he friends refused, she would “violently jerk” her head back and forth, “hoping to break my neck at a higher place and thus kill myself.”
Now, though, she’s content. Tada said it’s a “good thing” she didn’t succeed in taking her own life, noting, however, that — thanks to a series of pro-euthanasia laws in several U.S. states and European countries — she “could still get my death wish.”
Tada cited a 2018 Gallup survey, which found a stunning 41 percent of churchgoers agreed physician-assisted suicide should be accessible to a person who “has a disease that cannot be cured and is living in severe pain.”
The well-known evangelist and writer said that statistic revealed to her Christians — as well as the general population — “don’t have a biblical worldview on suffering.”
“We don’t know how to deal with it,” she wrote. “We want to drug it, escape it, euthanize it, do anything but live with it.”